Texas A&M University Student Life Skill Development and Professional Achievement from Participation on a Collegiate Judging Team

By Cavinder, Clay A.; Byrd, Brooke et al. | NACTA Journal, March 2011 | Go to article overview

Texas A&M University Student Life Skill Development and Professional Achievement from Participation on a Collegiate Judging Team


Cavinder, Clay A., Byrd, Brooke, Franke, Jake, Holub, Glenn, NACTA Journal


Abstract

Animal evaluation programs are valued forms of extracurricular learning tools for many youth and collegiate students, as many of these programs have been attributed to improved skills and abilities such as confidence, self-esteem, and critical thinking. A survey was designed to assess how participation on a collegiate judging team affected life skills in the area of personal and career development. Survey results found that judging team involvement and experiences helped develop multiple skills in participants such as: learning the value of hard work and dedication to a common goal, learning to be self-assertive, learning to control anxiety, and respecting others' opinions. Additional skills achieved through judging team participation were: improved verbal communication, patience, confidence as a leader, and confidence in social settings, among other skills. These results give further validation to animal judging and evaluation teams and how they can have a profound effect on participants in personal and professional development.

Introduction

Judging evaluation programs are well established in many universities as a means to implement greater education in evaluation of numerous types of livestock, meats, and wool. Many of these programs are extracurricular to the education the student receives from core curriculum courses and helps to reinforce what is being learned through classroom teaching. Through many hours of practice students put into these teams, valuable industry knowledge and practical approaches to selection and production are gained. Some might argue that more importantly, other skills are perceived to be developed as well; such as confidence, oral communication, and team work skills (McCann and McCann, 1992; Nash and Sant, 2005; Rusk et al., 2002). Previous work has identified the success that judging programs have on the development of these life skills; however, much of the work has been done on perceived development on 4-H aged youth (Boyd et al., 1992; Nash and Sant, 2005; Rusk et al., 2002) or a wide variety of college students throughout the country (McCann and McCann, 1992). The current research seeks to identify life skill development in the judging programs of Texas A&M University and the impact that involvement in had on the individual's career development after completing college.

Therefore, the objectives of this study are to:

1. Measure the effectiveness of judging programs on life skill development

2. Evaluate perceived abilities in communication

3. Lend credibility to judging programs as a means of additional, long term education in the college setting

Methods

Individuals were contacted via email from a mass email list of all Animal Science graduates of Texas A&M University from the Former Student Center or from the Animal Science Department directly. The Texas A&M Institutional Review Board approved the study protocol and all participants provided documented informed consent prior to participation in the study.

In order to meet criteria established for this project, respondents had to have been previous members of an evaluation program consisting of horse, livestock, meats, wool, dairy, or meat animal (Ak-Sar-Ben) and currently in an established career (i.e. graduate programs would not meet eligibility). Validity of the survey was established by a group of industry professionals to insure proper interpretation of each question, as well as to secure the appropriate questioning for this research idea. In this way, face validity was established.

The survey included 25 questions related to the perceived development of life skills through a collegiate judging program and the potential effect it may have had on professional development. The survey was designed to address questions that would provide feedback to the values established in the respondents' career in relation to time invested in a collegiate judging program.

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